Tag Archives: discovery

What we aren’t looking for usually finds us anyway

I am clearing out debris – you know that nameless stuff that accumulates in our lives virtually without our being aware of its presence in the first place?  Amongst the latest round for the recycling bin was a stack of (almost) unmarked CD-ROMs which I patiently loaded into my computer to review – and this is telling.

A new friend recently said, “I hope you find what you are looking for when you come to Croatia.” I don’t think you can receive a sentence like that, as a conscious person in any case, and not have two things immediately come to mind; the first is U2’s anthem of discovery – I still haven’t found what I am looking for and the second is the recognition that even when we aren’t seeking anything at all we are pulled toward our destiny.

Amongst the people I am working with in Croatia is a young woman named Željka, she is slightly older than I was when I took on the Imageabsolutely no initial pay responsibilities as the ‘coordinator’ for the National Police Athletic League Amateur Boxing League (Golden Gloves sanctioned) tournament in 1985. (Oh, sheesh – was I ever that young?) I had no experience with such things, and I do mean ZERO EXPERIENCE, but the police lieutenant in charge – as the expression goes – “was in the weeds” and he gladly took my offer of help because in less than 8 weeks’ time over 400 boys from all across the United States and Puerto Rico, their coaches and parents were going to descend upon the city of Buffalo NY and the only thing that was a given was that they had a hotel to stay at. There was no facility to train at or ultimately conduct their matches in because the Internal Revenue Service had padlocked the doors of the old Central Train Terminal for back taxes and wouldn’t let anyone in or out!, no central train terminalboxing rings, no sponges, ice or entertainment, no ambulance coverage or doctors on site – nothing.  With John Ralecki’s trust I discovered that with perseverance and charm, seeing the big picture but handling the tiniest detail, asking for help (and then formally writing thank you notes once help was received), not limiting my vision of what could be by what those around me said was only necessary, that some version of greatness could (and did) happen – all with an electric typewriter, an old steel desk, a rotary phone and self-determination.

With Željka I try to give her those same wings to fly – it is after all my turn to mentor – and like a mirror to my own history she daringly (and generously) offers her efforts also without financial compensation (at least for now) for the experience.  But at the same time, 4000 miles away and through Skype conversations and text messages and emails, she is giving me something important back – the best part of who I was as my younger self, the young woman who threw herself into a project because she didn’t know to be afraid of failure whose only desire was in eliminating the potential disappointment others might experience, to create magic and perhaps something much more.

On those CDs my ex-husband, who I still love very much (who has always been my best friend) even if we ceased being in love or lovers more than 20 years ago, painstakingly had Terri portraitcleared files from his old computer that I had used for 16 months (from January 2003 onward) as I was creating Thistle & Broom and burned discs for me.  Amongst the files were digital scans of the 30s vintage version of myself and I looked at that woman that was me (and still is) and randomly decided to share this ‘flashback’ on my Facebook wall.  To say I was overwhelmed by the comments would be an understatement; I am blessed with truly amazing friends on a global basis who see in the current version of me something of the woman in those images (who I actually didn’t see then).  (Some) Women (including myself) never seem to outgrow the critical lens in which society views women, how we begin to view ourselves as adolescents even when those closest to us regularly pay us the most sincere compliments imaginable about attributes far more important that our physical attractiveness.

But Željka’s comment, other than a ‘Like’ status, wasn’t public, it was as a sidebar to our efforts around two separate businesses that she is helping me to create for her home – for Croatia.

Željka:  you look beautiful on them

Teresa: OH, thank you Z, I was really surprised to find them, I was going to just throw the CDs out

Željka: we would say that you “zračiš”

Teresa: and what is zračiš

Željka:  🙂 zračiš would mean that you radiate with positive energy


Željka: 🙂

Teresa: crying tears of gratitude

Željka: don’t cry 🙂

Teresa: happy tears, that is about the most beautiful thing anyone has ever said of me

Željka: you see, it’s how i see people just from the pictures, this is why i wanted to comment on your linkedin post 🙂 i felt you are positive person

Teresa: I am so humbled to have you in my life Z

And then she made me laugh so hard that had I been drinking anything I would surely not be able to write on this computer right now ~

Željka: and this is not sycophancy, i say when i mean it 🙂

Believe me when I write that Željka is the very least likely person on the planet to ever say something she didn’t truly mean.

And so, it seems to me that Croatia is somehow a critical part of my journey of rediscovery – not seeking, not looking for something – but finding nevertheless. Of being continually reminded of the positive energy which I radiate and some can see and feel simply through a photograph, which we all can radiate if we so choose, and the young woman who didn’t know any differently, the woman who still believes that all things are possible and then sets about a path to make that a positive reality for everyone around her and herself ~ truly, the best of me.

To all my friends, and especially my ex-husband Stephen – thank you for this incredible gift of renewal, recognition and appreciation as offered to me this weekend.

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I arrived at the local library essentially to scope out new book offerings (yes, I am one of those who clings to the smell of paper and ink, the sound of pages turning, the visual harmony created by a talented graphic artist, the stimulation spilling forth into me like a latte stoking the caffeinated amongst you).  Inspiration for writing comes as much from reading other words as observing life – my timing could not have been more perfect.

As I climbed the stairs to the second floor I was met by a couple of librarians, two moms and three very little girls – one of whom had managed to stick her head between the supports of an upcoming event sign and was now STUCK.

ImageShe wasn’t hurt or crying (thank goodness) but she was bent at the waist, head through the uprights, curls tousled about her like a halo, tiny ruffled skirt balancing the horizontal image before me.  I commented to the pony-tailed woman on the floor trying to extricate the brunet china doll that her curiosity should be commended.  The mom replied, “Oh Gawd she’s not mine, I am just watching her for a friend!” and, thus, the predicament inspiration.

Not all knowledge is gained from books (despite my penchant for them) most of it is acquired by the roll-your-sleeves-up-jump-in-there methodology.  We learn hot and cold from touch and taste.  We learn to trust that internal voice from repeatedly feeling ‘off’ in circumstances, the gut instinct honed. We learn to dress appropriately (hopefully) by fashion faux pas committed when the stakes are non-existent and we are still in single digits.  We learn from observing and mimicry of our elders and mentors how to speak, walk and be kind.  And within that space of discovery is the ‘feeling an imposter’ syndrome that all of us – the Rhodes scholar and average Jane alike – go through at some point or another on the path to who were are meant to be.

 “Our bodies change our minds, and our minds can change our behavior, and our behavior can change our outcomes.” 

 Amy Cuddy, PhD, Associate Professor, Harvard Business School

Belief in self is more often realized because we keep trying at what we feel we are drawn to ‘do’; the ROI being competency in place of doubt (which may have) once existed. You are lying to yourself if you have never had a moment of absolute terror at being ‘discovered’ a fraud when faced with a challenge you had yet to tackle.  I recall sitting in the security office of a global pharmaceutical company many years with four other individuals all waiting to begin our on-boarding processes. The unknown man who would soon sit opposite me turned and in barely a whisper said “I feel a like a pretender it’s been so long that I have been looking for work. What if I can’t do this anymore?”  Two things struck me about his statement; the first was the transparency, the second was the vulnerability.  I believe we gain strength from exposing our raw underbelly – selectively. The stars might have been aligned when he chose me to express his doubts (there would never be a chance of betrayal as my own leap into the Pharma environment was just as unlikely).

Late last year I stumbled upon Amy Cuddy’s TEDGlobal speech about how our body language shapes the perception of not only those around us but also ourselves.  This brilliant woman had struggled with ‘feeling a fraud’ and was counseled to not fake it till you make it but rather fake it until you are it.

I ‘wasn’t’ an entrepreneur, or an author. Long before those choices I wasn’t in high tech, politics, Tall Ships, or boxing tournaments. All of those words, all those stories, put into communications practice because I discovered upon becoming a 17 year old tour guide in Niagara Falls that I could help people to understand things which were ‘foreign’ and unfamiliar to them. Yet, at the same time I felt a fraud in teaching 40 year old history teachers how-to be good tour guides.


It’s too soon to know what ‘discovery’ the toddler ultimately takes from her predicament of this afternoon but perhaps the cheers received on earning her freedom formed a future Cirque du Soleil star.


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